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Saxon Bishop and Celtic King: Interactions between Aldhelm of Wessex and Geraint of Dumnonia

Saxon Bishop and Celtic King: Interactions between Aldhelm of Wessex and Geraint of Dumnonia

Grimmer, Martin

The Heroic Age Issue 4 Winter 2001

Abstract

This paper explores the nature of relations between Aldhelm, abbot of Malmesbury and bishop of Sherborne in Wessex, and Geraint, king of Dumnonia, and the subsequent implications for Anglo-Celtic religious and secular attitudes across the West Saxon-Dumnonian border around the turn of the eighth century.

There is general agreement, among the few scholars who actually canvass the issue, that the nature of relations between Anglo-Saxons and Celts is a central question in the history of early medieval Britain (e.g. Davies 1990; Dumville 1989). Indeed, the history of any territory or kingdom needs to be placed within a broader context of regional interaction and relations. Yet, Anglo-Celtic interaction has attracted little direct scholarship. Rather, the tendency has been to write histories of Wales or Scotland, or of Anglo-Saxon England, in an almost exclusive sense, as if the modern borders were eternal. Interaction between different polities, while necessary to mention in view of the primary source material, has not garnered adequate attention.

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